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Should I stay? Should I leave?

The Dilemma Women Face in “Intoxicating” Marriages

Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

“I don’t see myself as a footnote to someone else’s life”- Martha Gellhorn

It’s June and the Atlantic hurricane season readies itself to whip the Northern Hemisphere. The month of June reminds you that unresolved issues might be destructive if you haven’t’ looked at your relationships and made a decision to do some Spring Cleaning in your life. With this in mind, my focal point this month is low-quality marriages. In my social environment, women in intoxicating relationships are not happy and no longer love their husbands. However, they feel caught in a vicious cycle of love and fear.

Everyone has her own reason, but jumping ship is not easy. I divorced twice. Divorce is both emotionally and financially painful. It can be traumatic or devastating that is hard to bear in the short run. However, after you have survived the many vicissitudes of marriage, there is a time to ask this short question: Should I stay or should I leave a troubled union? Though I chose the latter option twice, I still believe in marriage and am willing to be the headline in a man’s life.

In my first marriage, I was too young but smart enough to notice escalating warning signs that eventually became harder to ignore. Since Day One, I knew that it was unlikely to go anywhere, but I was stubborn and too much in denial of my own truth, which eventually kindled into resentment and anger. My first husband cheated and humiliated me. His infidelity left me feeling so worthless that my self-esteem inevitably ruined. Unfortunately, I was not brave enough to confront him with the evidence. As time passed, however, I reached the breaking point when he said he wanted to become a father. I was not, and never would, be ready to give a child to an unfaithful man. Only then, I did dare stand up for myself and begin to heal emotionally. Getting everything off my chest and requiring nothing in the settlement made my divorce case closed in ten minutes. My newly found freedom drastically shifted my life.

I felt like I was living on Cloud Nine when I got married to my second ex-husband. He treated me like a princess with full of respect, compassion, and love. However, after five and half years, his first wife became seriously ill and needed a special care. He left me to take care of her for the rest of his life. They had been together since they were 16-year-old, sharing all the ups and downs of life, including children and grandchildren. Although they had divorced, I knew that he still felt loyalty to her or, possibly, guilty. Because I am a generous, empathic person, I was able to see the experience through their eyes and to feel compassion for them both. Even though losing my husband wounded me, I felt nothing, but admiration for him. Naturally, our divorce was amicable.

In one circumstance, I decided, “I should leave” when I divorced my first husband. And when my second husband said he needed to “go back,” I let him leave. I believe that a karmic cleansing took place because of these decisions and now I feel ready for a fresh start. From my experience, if you find yourself in an intoxicating relationship, the need for a support group that encourages sharing your negative experience is necessary and can result in emotional relief.

Your supporters, such as your family members, or your friends, remind you that you have a choice to end a low-quality marriage. They also provide essential emotional tools to help you become self-sufficient. My decision to end my first marriage became the first step on a long, tough personal journey toward becoming a wiser, self-reliant woman. When I look back now, even the pain I experienced validated the worth of every moment. Though my journey continues happily, I now have a mature, open mind.  

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